Quantcast

100 Leading Medical, Scientific Experts Urge Obama Administration to Halt Fracking for Exports

Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy

Moving ahead rapidly with plans to approve several new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals would require "a rapid increase in fracking in the United States without credible science" and "could potentially cause undue harm to many Americans," according to 107 experts who signed on to a petition sent last week to the White House.

Facilitated by Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE), the petition is a response to the Obama Administration's consideration of fast tracking of the permitting process for LNG export terminals that would trigger a substantial spike in the fracking of U.S. shale gas in order to meet foreign energy demands.

Signed by top U.S. medical professionals, researchers, and other scientists, the petition reads in part:

There is a growing body of evidence that unconventional natural gas extraction from shale (also known as "fracking") may be associated with adverse health risks through exposure to polluted air, water and soil. Public health researchers and medical professionals question the continuation of current levels of fracking without a full scientific understanding of the health implications. The opening of LNG export facilities would serve to accelerate fracking in the United States in absence of sound scientific assessment, placing policy before health.

"The question here is very simple:  Why would the United States dramatically increase the use of an energy extraction method without first ensuring that the trade-off is not the health of Americans in exchange for the energy demands of foreign nations? Health professionals are coming together today to urge the White House to make sure that we have the facts prior to making this decision," said Seth B. Shonkoff, PhD, MPH, executive director, Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) and environmental researcher, University of California, Berkeley. "The only prudent thing to do here is to conduct the needed research first."

"Researchers are finding measurable levels of pollutants from this industry in air and water that are associated with the risk of illness," said Adam Law, MD, physician, Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca, NY and Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy. "The first studies to describe this are entering the scientific literature and public health researchers are embarking on multiple approaches to study the associated adverse health effects."  

"Natural gas has been in these shale formations for millions of years; it isn't going anywhere and will be around for future generations," said Madelon L. Finkel, PhD, professor of clinical public health, and director of the Office of Global Health Education, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City. "Society especially owes it to those living in areas with both active and planned drilling to study the potential for harm (to the environment and to human and animal health) and to act to reduce those factors that are shown to increase the risk of disease and even death."

"The current unconventional oil and gas drilling process using High Volume Horizontal Hydro-Fracturing is a much more intensive industrial activity than conventional drilling, which was the norm until about 10 years ago," said Louis W. Allstadt, former executive vice president, Mobil Oil Corporation, Cooperstown, NY. "It requires far greater volumes of water and chemicals, as well as disposal of much larger volumes of toxic flow-back fluids. We need to fully study and understand the health effects of the significantly greater volumes of toxic materials that must be handled and disposed of with this process."

The full text of the PSE petition reads as follows:

"We the undersigned medical and scientific professionals urge the Obama Administration to put a hold on moving forward on the construction of new liquefied natural gas terminals for the large-scale exportation of shale gas to foreign nations. Our concern is that the Administration has not fully examined the potential for harm to health and the environment that could result.

There is a growing body of evidence that unconventional natural gas extraction from shale (also known as 'fracking') may be associated with adverse health risks through exposure to polluted air, water, and soil.

Public health researchers and medical professionals question the continuation of current levels of fracking without a full scientific understanding of the health implications. The opening of LNG export facilities would serve to accelerate fracking in the United States in absence of sound scientific assessment, placing policy before health.

As the White House and the Department of Energy contemplate exporting LNG to accommodate international demand for energy, the need for a deliberative process based on sound science is all the more important. We assert that a guiding ethical principle for public policy on fracking should parallel that used by physicians: 'First, do not harm.'

There is a need for much more scientific and epidemiologic information about the potential for harm from fracking. To facilitate a rapid increase in fracking in the United States without credible science is irresponsible and could potentially cause undue harm to many Americans.

Without well-designed scientific studies, we will not know the extent of potential harm from fracking.  We strongly urge the Administration to err on the side of caution as it contemplates national policy regarding the exportation of shale gas.

The health professionals below sign as individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of their employer."

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

 

Sponsored
by [D.Jiang] / Moment / Getty Images

By Alena Kharlamenko

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Read More Show Less
KarinaKnyspel / iStock / Getty Images

2018 saw a number of studies pointing to the outsized climate impact of meat consumption. Beef has long been singled out as particularly unsustainable: Cows both release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere because of their digestive processes and require a lot of land area to raise. But for those unwilling to give up the taste and texture of a steak or burger, could lab-grown meat be a climate-friendly alternative? In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Oxford Martin School set out to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three scissor-tailed flycatcher fledglings in a mesquite tree in Texas. Texas Eagle / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Gary Paul Nabhan

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation's southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the U.S., becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less